Baby, baby, baby, oh. That's right, the voice of tweens everywhere, Justin Bieber, may just be the voice of reason when it comes to the uploading and sharing of online performances. Yes, I'm just as surprised at this news as you are, because, let's face it, one doesn't immediately think of Biebs when it comes to common sense. Making teenage girls scream and cry? Sure, but being an incredibly popular voice of reason in the face of a United States government led coup against the freedom of the Internet?
Well, let's just say the word "shocked" comes into play, at least for me. The thing is, I never would've guessed that Bieber would venture out of his insulated bubble to actually stand up for people who upload performance videos to YouTube, but yet, here we are.
For those who aren't aware, the machine that Bieber is raging against has to do with a bill -- SB 978 -- that targets illegal streaming. Essentially, the bill makes uploading and/or posting of videos containing copyrighted material illegal. In fact, the bill is so stringent, it makes these actions into a felony, punishable with jail time. While the bill had more than one sponsor, the person getting all of the attention is Senator Amy Klobuchar of Minnesota.
Because of how the language of the bill can be interpreted, theoretically, it could be used to punish those who upload their cover song performances to YouTube or other video sites. For instance, if you're in a Nirvana cover band and you upload a video of your band performing Drain You, in the eyes of the lawmakers who sponsored this bill, and to those who are gifted at twisting legislation to fit their own needs, your band has infringed and could be facing some severe punishment.
And this is what has got Justin Bieber all hot and bothered. So much so, in fact, he directly targeted Klobuchar with his comments, saying she should be locked up for sponsoring such a bill:
During a recent radio interview, the "Baby" singer lashed out at Minnesota Sen. Amy Klobuchar and her sponsorship of the Commercial Felony Streaming Act, which would make it a felony to illegally stream copyrighted content online.
Klobuchar "needs to know that I'm saying she needs to be locked up, put away in cuffs!" the pop star said. "People need to have the freedoms ... People need to be able to sing songs. I just think that's ridiculous."
To which, I'll allow the following video to do the talking for me:
Oh, snap, indeed.
Naturally, Klobuchar responded to her critic, well, at least one of her reps did -- I guess her party can only respond to famous people who criticize her ham-handed approach to the Internet -- claiming it was Bieber who is mistaken with his interpretation:
"Justin Bieber must have been misled about the content of this bill," the rep said. "It's not about people posting their personal work on the Web. This is common sense legislation that passed through the Judiciary Committee with no objection from either party. The bill only covers the intentional commercial theft of things like books, commercial music and movies, including foreign piracy."
Ah, but see, it's the unfortunate wording of the bill that leads people of the world to think bill could be twisted in such a manner, or, as AlterNet.org so eloquently puts it:
Enactment of this law could affect the millions of unknown, non-professional musicians who film themselves singing, say, John Lennon or Rihanna songs from their bedrooms. It’s hard to imagine the music industry attacking average citizens—right? But who can forget the RIAA's lawsuits against individuals who downloaded music as a way to make an example of their piracy stance—including, in 2003, a 12-year-old girl living in New York public housing?
So yeah, unless such concerns are directly addressed by people like Klobuchar, and the bill's wording specifically states the same thing her representative responded to Bieber with, the confusion surrounding the bill, as well as the ability to twist the language of it to fit certain needs will continue to exist.
Oh, and to Aaron Rasmussen, the author of the New York Daily News' article on Bieber's response who ended the post with this pithy nonsense:
Perhaps Biebs should stay out of politics and stick to making music.
Perhaps you should learn more about the bill Bieber is criticizing before you try to be snarky, even at the expense of a throwaway teeny bopper.